Ruminating On: The Top Ten Dos and Don’ts of NaNoWriMo


WARNING: Adult language and other naughty content.

Why am I an expert on NaNoWriMo? Well, in seven years I’ve never failed to finish, if that means anything. And I normally finish before the two week mark. And I’ve successfully published two novels that were completed during National Novel Writing Month. And, well, other reasons. Truth is you’re either going to listen to me or you’re not. Let’s get on with it.

#10. Do not research. I’m not only talking about writing what you know, rather writing what you don’t know without researching it. Many writers fail this thirty day challenge because they get bogged down in the facts. No good novel is written, my friends. It’s rewritten. Get all the ideas out and on the page (digital or otherwise) during Nano then fix all the broken bits during post-production. Namely, December and beyond. And if you absolutely must research so that your story can be written, do that crap before November 1st.

#9. Do use filler words. This may seem obvious, but you wouldn’t believe how many authors I know who get stuck on simple things like character names or locations. Or that one thing that does something but they can’t remember exactly what it’s called. Or they get stuck on the right word for the occasion. What’s a nineteen letter word for government? Who gives a shit? If you’re looking up that nineteen letter word right now, this very second, you probably won’t finish NaNoWriMo. Some famous author once said, “Any word that needs to be looked up in a thesaurus is almost always the wrong word for the job.” And I’m not going to look up who said that either. Why? Because I’m preparing for Nano. Deal with it. The answer to this dilemma is filler words. Use them. Don’t know the name of that side character on page fourteen? Call him Shithead. When you finally figure out his name, do a search for Shithead in you word doc then replace every occurrence. Problem solved.

#8. Do no harm. Do not edit, revise, rewrite, coffee stain, scissor, piss upon, wipe ass with, or alter your Nano Novel in any way, shape, or form until December 1st. If it’s already written, let it be. Even if you know it’s the biggest, steamiest pile of ass plunder you’ve ever pillaged from your booty, leave it the Christ alone. You’re not helping yourself in anyway by removing it. I promise. The only thing you are doing is distracting yourself from the bigger picture. Are you cheating by leaving in some nonsense you know won’t be used in the final product? Isn’t that knowingly bloating your word count? Nope. Any of you that have played with a good editor will know that almost everything is expendable. The goal of NaNoWriMo is completion. Proving to yourself that you can finish the month and come out the other side with 50,000 words strung together with some kind of reason. Quick story. I know a guy who wrote a 65k novel for Nano only to whittle that bastard down to just under 25k so that it could be sold as a novella. There’s not much left of that original 65k story line, but that’s not the point, now, is it? Nope. Moving on.

#7. Do find writer-y type friends to do NaNoWriMo with. Sure, you can use non-writers for this step, but, like any good holiday, Nano is best celebrated with like-minded company. I mean, it’s perfectly acceptable to spend Christmas with your Jewish friend, but they’re not going to have as much fun as you’re going to have. Hunt down other writers who’re going to participate, who you can bounce daily word counts off of, who’ll appreciate the fact that you just shat out 7k of random verbiage in as many hours. Non-writer friends won’t appreciate those numbers but another writer will.

#6. Do drink coffee, smoke cigarettes, eat Cheetos, have porn playing in the background or whatever other addiction keeps you hyped and ready to work. I’m not your preacher. I’m not going to judge you. If you need to rub one out to boost your creativity, go for it. If you have to snort a line of coke, so be it. More than likely, though, you don’t need my permission to do those aforementioned things, but I’m here to build you up, not tear you down.  Drugs are bad, mm’kay. But do what you gotta do. In other words, if you’re a writer who’s also an inhalant junkie who’s planning on participating in Nano, don’t pick November as the month to quit huffing gas.

#5. Do over-inflate your ego. You’re a badass. Nothing can stop you. Your shit don’t stink. And your preferred gender finds you irresistible. Everyone wants you—Hell, they need you—to finish this book. If you write fifty grand worth of sexy-ass, underwear-dropping words this month, you’ll change the world. This month is all about you! Own it! (Disclaimer: If you’re married, in a relationship, or plan on being around another living soul at all this month, I suggest you keep these thoughts to yourself. This is mental stimulation, not fact. You’ve been warned.)

#4. Do not track your word count. “Whoa! Has this guy lost his mind? Dafuq you mean don’t track your word count?” Calm down, imaginary person inside my head. What I mean is this. Do not check your word count as you’re writing. Wait until you think you’re done for the day then clickety-clack that word count button. To calm those individuals out there who’re screaming, “But what if I haven’t reached my goal, Ass Panda?” My answer is, write more. You don’t need the distraction. Checking your word count every ten minutes isn’t going to help you. It’s going to take you out of the zone. Nothing’s more depressing than thinking you’ve written two thousand words but finding that you’ve only actually written three hundred. On the other side of the coin, let’s say your word count goal is 3k, but, upon checking in, you’ve written more than thirty-five hundred words. Some of you might stop there even though you have more story to get out. You want to pace yourself. Well, you, good sir or madam, are an idiot. Keep the fire stoked and keep on writing. Forget the count and the count will amass. If you properly lose yourself in your writing, I can guarantee you at least two thousand words a sitting. Promise. That’s that magic. True Jedi shit.

#3. If you have the means, do find someone to feed your animals and make you the occasional sandwich. Seriously, you’re going to need it. Writing, like any other addiction, can replace everyday necessities. See, I found an intelligent, beautiful, all-around-wonderful human being when I found my wife. She suffers my need to write—as do my children—and will pop in on occasion to remind me to sleep, shower, and sustain myself. If it wasn’t for her, I would have fused with my office chair a long time ago. I’m not proud of it, but them’s the facts. Writing ten thousand words a day is all well and good, but you must leave the fiction behind at some point. This may seem to go against everything I’ve said thus far, but not really. Peep this, kids. If you write 10k today, but end up putting yourself in a coma-like state for the next week by doing so, you’ve accomplished nothing. Know your limits or find someone who will know them for you.

#2. Do not lie about your word count. And, no, this is not a No Shit, Sherlock situation. You’re not hurting anyone but yourself. Seriously, there’s no gold medal for finishing. The only reward is knowing that you completed the required word count. It takes a real Douchenozzle Von Shizahead to lie about something as self-serving as NaNoWriMo, but these fuckeroos do exist. Some people will do anything for a badge they could easily steal off Google Images.

#1. I know you’ve all been waiting for it, so I’ll close this out with the motto by which I live. It’s the only guaranteed way to become a writer, really. Ready for it? Here goes…



6 thoughts on “Ruminating On: The Top Ten Dos and Don’ts of NaNoWriMo

  1. Pingback: Why I Fail at NaNo Every Year - Challenges NaNoWriMo - - The Gilded Quill

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